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THE CHRISTOS MOSAIC: A Novel ~Vincent Czyz

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Batten down the hatches and get set for a spectacular read and thrilling adventure in the same league as the DAVINCI CODE and other well written conspiracy theories. An imaginative romp through the serious efforts of theological pursuits, Dead Sea Scrolls and the Life of Jesus theorists; includes car chases and foreign locations.

“Author Vincent Czyz takes the reader through the backstreets of Istanbul, Antakya (ancient Antioch), and Cairo, to clandestine negotiations with wealthy antiquities smugglers and ruthless soldiers of fortune, to dusty Egyptian monasteries, on a nautical skirmish off the coast of Alexandria, and finally to the ruins of Constantine’s palace buried deep beneath the streets of present-day Istanbul. “ (Amazon’s page)

Drew, an expat living in Turkey is working to get back with his ex-wife.  He is a Biblical scholar who majored in Literature in college.  He connects with Kadir, a dwarf antiquities dealer on ‘the street of used books’ in Istanbul who is with Zafer, an ex-military special forces operative, working together to retrieve a newly discovered Dead Sea Scroll and another parchment, which will change history and the Christian Church; making this team a tremendous amount of money.  There are a significant number of people who do not want these scrolls to be made public or have them given to the academic sphere.  Drew is valuable to the team as he assists their efforts and shows them how to get the scrolls to the academic world/rightful owners and also for them to make lots of money.

The book is very intelligent and Drew is continuously studying his college classwork, purchasing new historic works and thinking through what he is learning.  His curiosity is very keenly attuned and he pulls together some amazing concepts and intellectual discourse.  The story is also about relationships and emotions working towards saving the marriage and the manipulations of truths by violence, anger, and deceit. We are within the study of how to get to the core of basic human interaction and the core of an historic study to identify the beliefs and the “realness” of the story that one is experiencing.

I enjoyed this fast paced book from start to finish and it was quite a challenge to recall the hours and lessons of graduate school, where I was delving into church history and theology as it relates to the stories, which promote our confessions of faith and serve our belief systems.  What makes a person challenge or change their minds or act in new and different ways?  How do individuals love and find their deepest truths?   Well versed in traditions and full of imagination and fictionalizations, THE CHRISTOS MOSAIC is an intense and high-powered encyclopedic read.  I would read it again.  Better than the DAVINCI CODE.

TLC Book Tours sent me an advance uncorrected proof of this book for review.  I thought it was great and I so enjoy stories that activate the mind and make one think; producing new ideas, affirming possibilities.

From TLC books about the author:

“Vincent Czyz is the author of The Christos Mosaic, a novel, and Adrift in a Vanishing City, a collection of short fiction. He received two fellowships from the NJ Council on the Arts and the W. Faulkner-W. Wisdom Prize for Short Fiction. The 2011 Truman Capote Fellow at Rutgers University, his stories and essays have appeared in New England Review, Shenandoah, AGNI, The Massachusetts Review, Tin House (online), Boston Review, Quiddity, The Tampa Review, The Georgetown Review, and Skidrow Penthouse, among other publications. He spent a total of nearly a decade in Istanbul, Turkey before settling in Jersey City. His work often deals with the existential themes found in art, myth and religion, dreams, and primal ways of perceiving the world.”

Related:
Ayesha Ryder
The Signature of All Things
The Lemon Tree

THE QUESTION?: A Thriller for the Curious ~R. Breuer Stearns

Monday, December 28th, 2015

“If You Could have the Answer to Only One Question, What Would You Ask?”

“And Who Might Try to Stop You From Asking It?”

THE QUESTION is ideal reading for anyone who is curious . . . for those who gaze into the cosmos at night and wonder . . . for those who look into the mirror and imagine . . . for those whose hearts beat faster when confronting the unknown . . . for readers who enjoy a fast paced, contemporary thriller that inspires them to think.” (From Media Kit)

I was hooked right away into this fast-paced book and reading this book did cause me to think and offer up some of my own ideas.  I realized how so few folks in my life these days are able to hold a discussion about any subject or they rather offer up canned thoughts and ideas and are unable to defend or even understand what they are saying.  I was caught up with the two characters, which were constantly thinking and problem-solving and searching for new solutions within their field of work.

Nate is a grown up football star, who now works for the Navy helping Submarine Crews problem-solve disasters which he designs to test them within a research facility.  He is there to help the top brass figure out how to save lives in an emergency or disaster.  He sees a pattern of success when the Commanders are able to work as a team, take a deep breath and figure out “what” will remedy the situation.  It is a new form of communication system – a mind meld.  The minds in conjunction with each other are finding solutions very quickly and having remarkable success.

I can understand why this book is recommended for high school students as they might be able to still be taught to thinking and reason about this story and rediscover their innate curiosity.  One of my book groups would truly enjoy this story for the good thinking and discussion starters, but they do not read thrillers and several events in the story would turn them off to the read.   My other book group would be unable to discuss this story except on the surface and they do not understand enough history to dive deeply into the possibilities.  The attacks would not be distracting to the story because they know those from recent history.   Because the book is written in a style similar to the various scenes of a movie or TV series, I might be able to pull them into some new thinking or possibilities.  This makes me consider choosing THE QUESTION for them to try on and explore.

How does one save lives when a submarine is attacked or damaged? – How does one prevent the problem? – How does a person prevent a terrorist attack or keep it from happening?   Who will work with you and seek answers?

I give this book very high marks and know it will make a great recommendations for my regular readers who love thrillers.   I did have one problem with this story, one of the attacks and all the thinking I was doing left me awake all night it was so vivid and I wished I could have talked to someone about how to stop such a horrible experience from happening; I was also thinking about the Sandy Hook School Shooting. (I am writing this review on the 3 year anniversary of that act of terrorism).  This scene and this news story stays with me and I keep working on how to stop it from happening ever again.

About the Author

“R. Breuer Stearns is an investor and author.

Mr. Stearns graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover (1970), Harvard University (AB, 1974), University of Chicago (MBA, 1977), and DePaul University College of Law (JD, 1979). He rapidly ascended on Wall Street in the 1980’s, serving as Managing Director, Mergers & Acquisitions at Lehman Brothers and Head of Investment Banking (North America) at UBS Securities.  While living in New York, he founded “Terrific Teachers, Inc.,” a foundation dedicated to identifying and rewarding the best of the best of the city’s public high school teachers.

Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mr. Stearns launched a private investment bank in the former Soviet Union.  He spent the early 1990’s seeking to marry emerging science, primarily emanating from Russia’s Defense sector, with Western capital.  During this period, Mr. Stearns made a small fortune, albeit from a larger one.  The venture provided a remarkable lesson in hubris, a tremendous reservoir of internal strength, and first-hand source material for Mr. Stearns’ first book, Winning Smart After Losing Big (Encounter Books, Beijing University Press).

Subsequently, Mr. Stearns served as Chief Financial Officer of The Dial Corporation, Chief Financial Officer of Columbia/HCA Corporation, Chief Financial Officer of PacifiCare, Inc., President and Chief Operating Officer of Vascular Genetics, Inc., and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Quepasa Corporation (QPSA: Amex).

Mr. Stearns is a Founder of VestaPoint Capital LLC, a family of investment funds focused on real estate development.  He lives in Arizona with his wife, two dogs, two cats, and a horse.  He travels extensively and is intensely curious.” (From Media Kit)

R. Breuer Stearns Website

Laura Fabiani of iReadBookTours sent me a copy of this book for review.    It was well worth the read.  Thank you.

Related:
Dig Two Graves
Coercion
Ryder: Birds of Prey
The Fury

THE RAVEN ROOM: A Trilogy Mystery (Book 1) ~Ana Medeiros

Monday, November 16th, 2015

“Anything you can imagine. Everything you crave.”

“The Raven Room will have everything you could possibly want and more.” (The San Francisco Book Review – cover)<‘blockquote>

You need to be in Chicago to find the RAVEN ROOM finely tuned into Chinatown and the underground levels under traditional storefronts.  It is a Sex Club and offers its membership every delight they could possibly imagine and now there is a murder involved with the club; the press and police would like access.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book for review and I have mixed emotions about this request.  I was only offered Book One, which has a very unsettling ending and no book two or three in the offering.  The book is very well written and finds a hold on the reader very quickly and the sex keeps coming full throttle and does not let up page after page after page.   The characters are well developed and disturbing at times and have numerous psychological attributes, which can be overwhelming.  Even though I would rather not know about this kind of club and it’s activities the story is believable.

Meredith is a young journalism student and has discovered an older fellow who arouses many new feelings in her.  She wants to write an expose’ about THE RAVEN ROOM club and Julian is her point of entry member.  Julian is self-destructive, because of his abandonment as a child and his trials within the foster care system, and yet he is working on healing himself and has developed a fine reputation as a child psychologist and caregiver.  Meredith wants to keep him from self-destruction and yet will she be pulled into his controlling side life situations?

The book is about sexual deviations and I know I should not feel like there was too much sex, but I did feel there was just too much.  A loving encounter would turn into beatings and cutting and choking….  I just had to set the book aside and go do something else.  The who-done-it part of the story was wonderful and the development of the backstories was very good and kept me proceeding until the very rude, abrupt last page.  Yikes!  I kept trying to figure out where the story was headed and could not get it out of my mind.

I would offer a warning for those who are not wanting to read about such violence and so much sex – The RAVEN ROOM has it all and will take the purchase of 3 books to get the whole story.

About the Author

“Before THE RAVEN ROOM there was Paris, books, coffee, chocolate and zombies. Ana Medeiros lives in Toronto, Canada, with her boyfriend and two cats. THE RAVEN ROOM is her first novel.” (From Amazon’s page)

“Readers who enjoy complex stories with strong characterization and psychological depth will find The Raven Room a satisfyingly story of emotional turbulence…” – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

THE FURY: A Thriller ~Shane Gericke

Monday, September 14th, 2015

I could not put this book down and there are two reasons why THE FURY held on to me for 8 hours straight.   The first reason the author says someone assisted him in changing the timing of his writing which made the book just zoom in reading speed and flow and the second was this e-book came to me via advanced reading copy and Dropbox and I could find no way to save the PDF file; I had already started reading and I just kept going until I was at the very end.  I was afraid the book would disappear and I had to download it each time I needed to leave the read and do something else.   The book was incredibly good and interesting and I do so love these powerful women who take charge and solve the crisis.

Reassured several times that this is a work of fiction and imagination, there are lots of historic moments in the book, which eventually all tie together and make a complete package.  We begin on an oil rig platform as it is rupturing and falling into the Gulf of Mexico.  The integration of ideas and events indicates the relatedness of current circumstances and how we arrived at such a dire circumstance today.   A real event that pulls the previous events into the story, as we see how greedy fossil fuel guys are losing power and money to the new wealthy and powerful (and violent) drug cartel folks.  The disregard for the environment, humans, governments, most of life is passed on from one group to another, which is vying for control, power and money.  The victims are everyone actually and so many are caught in the crossfire and explosions.  From oil rig explosion to Nazi Chemical Warfare and Japanese Chemical weapons developers, it is a big hurdle back in time and then a leap to the present.  Jump again and we are with the Border Patrol in Arizona attempting to stop a Taliban multi-million dollar drug shipment from arrival and disbursement in Mexico and the USA and the killing keeps going.

There are lots of true events referenced in this story, and it is so interesting how they relate to current events, habits and practices.   WWII comes back and forth and all the mistakes we made as a country when attempting to stop the war and get our own chemical weapons in order.  We hired some of the International experts in Chemical killings into our own program.  I am remembering our torture programs we perfected and were exposed in THE SHOCK DOCTRINE by Naomi Klein.  Several Presidents are mentioned and how their actions affected the whole current drug war and the human dependence on drugs today.  The gun programs which armed the drug cartels in Mexico (fast and furious) and the global knowledge of guerrilla warfare; how to control people and how to make money – greed.

The backstories are good and bring the characters into a fullness of possibility and believability.  I got hooked on the opening quote that was the definition of FURY from storm to a woman’s anger and reaction to that anger.   Wow it was right in my face from that moment on and it all hung together and related.  Superstition Davis was just an amazing character and so true to her part and once again a feisty mother took some action into her own hands to help and remedy a horrid situation.   Yes, I want to believe there are these kinds of powerful woman at work for our behalf.  I felt my own feelings of contempt for those who don’t know history, the ignorant and suffered the fools who ignored what was real.  THE FURY is powerful story telling and I was happy to finish it and let go.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for asking me to review THE FURY.   I admire these writers who can pull so many events together and still write an amazing story.  I think you will find it hard to put down – THE FURY

About the author

“Shane Gericke is an American novelist living in Naperville, Illinois. Before becoming a published thriller writer, he was a journalist, most recently at the Chicago Sun-Times from 1982 to 1994”

Shane Gericke Facebook 

Related:
The Contractors
The Shock Doctrine 
The Fixer 
Ryder